Miller: Gambling bill poor solution to wrong problem

| 31/10/2018 | 48 Comments
Cayman News Service

Gambling is still illegal in the Cayman Islands

(CNS): The opposition leader has made it clear he will not be supporting the government’s plans to amend the gambling law because be believes the draconian move is a hopeless solution to the wrong problem that will be fraught with challenges. Ezzard Miller told CNS it was time to legalise and license lotteries, not further criminalise gamblers and push the local numbers game underground. Noting that it would be difficult to enforce and, worse, likely to lead to selective enforcement, he said government should be reminded that this was no longer the 1960’s and many people now gamble online and play US lotteries, as well as buy numbers locally.

He said it was absurd to clamp down on something that would be difficult to police fairly, which already throws up many contradictions. He pointed out that local gas stations are currently running a lottery promotion that falls foul of the law, but he hasn’t seen anyone being arrested.

The current legislation exempts charities and churches from the part of the current law that prohibits raffles but that does not cover commercial entities. Nevertheless, one of the Cayman Islands’ main fuel suppliers is currently running a gas-pump promotion that involves a ‘spin and win’ draw for customers buying gas at their stations, which Miller says is still gambling.

Things change, the North Side representative said, and while Caymanians may once have frowned upon any kind of gambling, today the situation is very different.

“The government cannot possibly have missed the local furor over the recent $1.5 billion jackpot in the US, where people were doing everything they could to get hold of tickets,” he said to emphasise the change in attitude.

Miller said legalising and licensing these types of lotteries and taxing the profits to use the cash for education would be a much better move for government. He has suggested a levy of around 30%, which would increase public revenue that could be put to good use while diverting police resources to more challenging criminality.

The RCIPS has expressed concerns that illegal gambling is fuelling robbery and violence, but Miller questioned whether this would be addressed by introducing more draconian punishments, especially for the gamblers. He pointed out that victims of robbery and violence associated with illegal gambling would be even less likely to report such crimes because of their own involvement in an illegal activity with harsh penalties.

Miller said there were other ways to address those problems. For example, if government is concerned about businesses such as local stores and barber shops selling numbers, then they should pull their trade and business licences, not punish their customers.

As usual, he said, those who can least afford it are likely to be targetted, because many low-income Caymanians supplement their earnings by selling numbers or playing in the hopes of winning.

He said this was “a draconian measure” that is unlikely to work and another example of government “trying to find a solution for the wrong problem”, and rather than help, it could just make things worse.

The gambling amendment bill would increase fines significantly for those running illegal numbers rackets but it also increases the punishment for gamblers, with no provision in the legislation for supporting addicts.

The legislation is one of a slew of new pieces of legislation that government is hoping to steer through the LA when it meets next month.

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Category: Crime, Crime Prevention, Laws, Politics

Comments (48)

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  1. Kman says:

    I can’t agree with Ezzard on everything but he’s certainly in the absolute right here and it’s time to change the gambling laws to allow a national lottery. If government could produce $300 million in sales a year then 20% could be used to support sports, education, arts/cultural and social projects.

    It’s been known that $50-75million goes out of Cayman annually because of numbers which are played in Honduras, Jamaica and DR plus so many residents play the U.S Lottery and gamble online or bet on sports. The churches are the ones who don’t want lottery but prefer to get money and funding from the dealers and so called Public Funds.

    Cayman legalize ganja and lottery and we’ll be more self sufficient while lowering overhaul cost to the public purse.

  2. Anonymous says:

    He’s a one man opposition… and long may he stay there.

  3. Peter slice says:

    The port, gambling, no recycling. Bye bye Cayman. You really are Digging your grave. 20years you will look back and wonder what the hell happened.

  4. Bill Hawks says:

    Very nice comment, MM, but it would have been a bit more accurate if you had left off the last four words.

  5. Anonymous says:

    more unnecessary laws for the already feeble RCIP to enforce! Morons in charge!

  6. Anonymous says:

    Why are people surprised about Ezzard Miller’s abilities as a legislator? Just because he has a “gruff” and “outspoken” personality doesn’t mean that he is “out of his depth” or a total waste like many other MLA’s!

    Please recall that in the mid-1980’s when Ezzard was Minister for Health, Cayman fully embraced AIDS awareness and prevention measures, which definitely has had an impact in keeping AIDS at a minimum in these small islands, compared to what it could have been. Remember, before his actions, condoms were not openly available. One had to visit the drug store or Willy Bodden’s shop and ask secretly to buy a condom! true! Imagine if Ezzard had the “old-fashioned” views that presently exist in the LA, we would be rife with AIDS. Also, during that same tenure, Ezzard pushed legislation to ban smoking in public buildings. Again to the betterment of health for Caymanians. These are only two of Ezzard’s many achievements and a leading MLA, however many of his positive initiatives whne he’s been on the minority side of the House have been shot down by McKeeva and other morons over the years,

    Clearly, some of the posters here are of the mindset that if you don’t like a politician’s personality then his policies are also crap. Morons also!

    BTW, I’m a West Bay voter so my views have nothing to do with who votes for who in North Side.

    • Anonymous says:

      That’s exactly the problem. You SHOULD be able to vote for a representative in each district!

      What you have here is NOT a democracy! More like capitalism.

    • Anonymous says:

      Thanks 2:04 form reminding us of some of Ezzard’s contributions as an MLA and Minister. Here are a few others
      Introduced the first National Drug Plan with the focus on demand reduction through education and rehabilitation rather than interdiction
      Introduced Pension and Health Insurance legislation
      Health promotion programs like Heart Beat Cayman and Drinkwise Cayman programs for which he was awarded the international WHO/PAHO award in Washington.
      Set up the first HSA
      Tried to build a modern hospital
      Introduced the first five year economic plan linked to the Physical Development plan.
      In those times he was frequently accused by his piers of being ahead of his time.
      I could go on but suffice it to say he has been the most productive representative North Side has ever had.

  7. Anonymous says:

    How is the Government acting any different than a drug dealer who capitalized on his customers addictions without spending any money on rehabilitation.

    The CIG has, over the years, allowed gambling and numbers without enforcing the laws that are already on the books. Now that a large percentage of the population are avid gamblers, addicted to gambling, they are going to increase the price (through larger fines) and prey on these addicted gamblers who cannot help themselves.

    • Anonymous says:

      Good comment, but why to assume everyone is addicted? I buy lottery tickets for fun.

  8. Anonymous says:

    I swear Mr. Miller is the most sensible one of the lot of them. A real diamond in a pile of rocks. Keep it up Mr. Miller. You have my support.

  9. Anonymous says:

    So gambling is your problem? Really?

    Nothing, absolutely nothing is more important than the Dump issue. Long term consequences for your health and environment are grave. WtE plant is not the solution.
    Yet, nobody, but your media is doing anything to stop the madness of dumping raw untreated waste in the heart of SMB area. You approve schools to be built at the foot of the Dump. If this is not an insanity, then what is?
    Watch this video where parents protest for the healthy environment at school.
    In Cayman, you seem to be lost your mind bringing children to a school near the Dump.
    Is everyone being hypnotized by the toxic fumes?

    Gambling is not the problem you should focus on. In fact, it is not the problem at all. It is a made up problem.

    • Anonymous says:

      Legalize marijuana and gambling. Case closed. You can’t change human behavior with laws and regulations. Some countries have figured it out already. People should be able to relax. Gambling and smoking a joint do just that, help people to unwind.

      If morals is at issue, start with Batabano parade.

      As for the Dump, boycott Camana Bay establishments for a day or two. After all, it is very close to the Dump. That would get their attention fast.
      Lakeview residents should have started class action ten years ago. Have CIG to buy the residential units. The entire complex must be demolished for its proximity to the Dump.

      • Historian says:

        The dump was there long before either Camana Bay or Lakeside Apartments: blame the developers of those properties.
        It is not rational to buy land and build something unsuited to the location and then expect the reason for the unsuitability to be moved.

        The distillery is another case in point.

        • Anonymous says:

          When the dumping of garbage on the site of what is now part of the George Town Landfill began in 1963, no one, least of all the owner of the land at the time, could have envisioned what has become known as “Mount Trashmore.”

          As he related to the Cayman Compass in a 2013 article, then-owner of the property, George Seymour, only wanted to use trash to fill in the swampy land so he could use if for raising cattle.

          Because there was an increasing issue of what to do with solid waste, other Grand Cayman residents also started using the site to dump trash. In 1972, the government leased the land to use as a garbage dump, although it was seen only as a temporary arrangement that would last eight years. Eventually, government acquired ownership of the land and eight years has extended to 41 years – so far.

          Since the dump was started by private individuals without government consultation, there were no systems incorporated to prevent environmental damage from leachate or gas migration.

          By the end of the 1980s, Cayman’s legislators realized that a problem was developing with the George Town Landfill, and over the past 25 years a steady stream of politicians has discussed the issue, formed committees and commissioned studies to investigate solutions, and made promises that haven’t been kept.

          During his contribution to the budget debate on Nov. 29, 1989, then-Executive Council Member for Health Ezzard Miller was asked to explain a $900,000 allocation for consultancy in the budget, part of which he said would be used for a study on solid waste management for Grand Cayman, Cayman Brac and Little Cayman.

          “Because whether [those questioning the allocation] want to believe it or not, solid waste – garbage – is becoming a serious problem in this country,” he said.

          Mr. Miller spoke of “the threats of pollution from leach heads” and “the threat of a methane bomb going off on the outskirts of George Town at any time.

          “If they think this is not a problem, go up to the dump and walk around,” he said. “Look at the leach head that is threatening the North Sound.”

          Mr. Miller said the government had been consulting with representatives of the Pan American Health Organization and the World Health Organization about the issue “on a regular basis for some time.”

          The rest is in this link.

          Quite amusing, isn’t it?

        • Anonymous says:

          So when the residential complex across the Dump was built? Where the developer(s)assured, perhaps in writing, that the Dump will be capped by a certain date?
          Someone had approved the site for residential development, despite the fact that the problem with the Dump was already known in 1972-80 and it was growing.

    • Anonymous says:

      Well said!Tried to give you 100 “thumb-ups”, but my IP address dosn’t allowed.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Wonder where Hon. Speaker, McKeeva Bush stands on this gambling issue?

  11. Anonymous says:

    Ya’ll have no problem enforcing other stupid laws, for example marijuana consumption… i say go ahead and enact some other stupid laws if that’s what you’re good at.

  12. Anonymous says:

    Prohibition is the cause of organized crime.

    Why are churches exempt from the law, while the are so against it ? Hypocrites….

  13. Mike says:

    Yet another fine example of negative thinking by an elected govt. If so many of Cayman’s residents want to buy numbers or gamble, why should the govt. appoint themselves to be our moral guardians? The majority of people want it, so respect that fact, and use your collective intellects to turn that into something positive, rather than pass even more legislation that you cannot enforce, or, will simply not enforce.

    Politicians seem to believe that they can only solve problems by passing more laws, and by the way, who says that this gambling is even a problem? TOO MUCH GOVERNING, TOO LITTLE SENSE!

  14. Anonymous says:

    Only problem is that the government is not competent to tax and regulate lotteries on its own. Maybe the government could join up to the Mega Million/Powerball consortium who will do all the work for you for a fee and send you a check every month. (Puerto Rico and US Virgin Islands already in so they know how to do islands) When the jackpots high, cruisers would buy tickets. Trying to tax latinamerican lottery sales here is a fools errand. A 30% tax means the sellers are highly incented to keep selling illegally and it is too easy to smuggle tickets. Local numbers games are not going to pay 30% just to be legal.

    • Anonymous says:

      A 30% tax would be better than the status quo… 60 to 1 pay out on a 100 to 1 shot is a 40% tax – there isn’t a casino in the world that gets away with that kind of rake! I love to gamble, but have never bought numbers because the odds are so skewed.

  15. Elvis says:

    I bet it doesn’t change. Oops hehe

  16. Anonymous says:

    I agree, all this will do is put the small in jail for not paying the fines. We pay the Northward bill and the top dog moves on to the next sucker.

    So sad, regulate and tax the industry, use the money for develop our children, not that hard. These dinasoars just don’t get it. As society evolves so should the laws.

    All we get in GCM is high light bills and robust taxes.

  17. Anonymous says:

    The CIG should set up a gaming and lottery commission that takes a fixed percentage of all of the lotteries and wagering in the Territory, including license fees from all visiting cruise ships (allowing them to open their tables in our waters, and thus remove the commercial impetus to leave our waters early). Bahamas and Bermuda figured this out years ago…Cayman politicians pride themselves on being stubbornly dense when it comes to commerce and highly selective when it comes to moral high ground. How they can think they are mentally equipped to negotiate multi-hundred million dollar backroom deals in complete isolation, without any consultation, relying on just their deficient brain trust of third teir business world advisors and counsel…smh.

  18. CB4 says:

    Why is it lately that only the opposition are making any sense???

    • MM says:

      6 in one hand, half dozen in the other.

      When the Gov falls out of favor – the Opposition takes over in the next election and carries out the same work the previous Government started anyway.

      The entire purpose of a Gov and an opposing Gov is so that the people both have a side to take; gives everyone the feeling of being heard and represented.

      However, a thorough look at Cayman’s brief political history shows clearly that the Opposition and the Gov are one and the same and either side that gets elected to Government will still carry on the work of the previous. They are all buddies from the same group with great people skills.

  19. Anonymous says:

    Oh just change it! Then legalize pot. Then use money from both to sort out your public school problem. Voila!

    • Anonymous says:

      Legalize sex workers too and we’ll have one hell of a party!

      • Anonymous says:

        Why not?! Legal sex work actually protects the women or man in the end. Abuse happens when they can’t turn to law enforcement for help. Abuse being physical, monetary, or verbal to name a few.

    • Ron Ebanks says:

      If people are playing the US lottery in CAYMAN , I wonder if they read the back of all lottery tickets that says you must be a US CITIZEN to collect the winnings . Big chance to take with your winning ticket . But like Miller said if open it up , open everything up .

      • Anonymous says:

        You are posting your own facts, which amounts to nonsense!

        • Ron Ebanks says:

          Anonymous 1: 03am , I was reading from the back of power ball ticket when I made that comment . Have you ever won and collected your winnings yet under that article you posted ? Before you spend anymore money see what your Lawyer would say .

          • Anonymous says:

            your winnings would be significantly less if you are a foreigner. But if you mail me the winning ticket I could get you insignificantly more. Lets be partners.

      • Anonymous says:

        For the Florida lottery there are no citizenship or residency requirements to collect winnings. Banking the winnings in the Cayman Islands may be another matter if one should be so lucky!

      • Anonymous says:

        Ron you don’t know what you speak of. I have a power ball ticket in my hand right now and no where does it say you have to be a US citizen. Stop talking shit.

      • Anonymous says:

        Completely incorrect. In fact a few non US citizens have won mega millions and powerball prizes, and that is well documented. The only requirement is that one needs to be physically present in the state in which they purchase their ticket.

  20. Anonymous says:

    I don’t agree with Ezzard very often or ever…but he is right on with this one.

  21. Anonymous says:

    Prohibition never has and never will stop adults from doing what they want, be it drinking, cannabis or gambling.

    Legalize, regulate and TAX. Of course that would require legislators to actually do their jobs by making sensible regulations, which is a lot harder than just going the futile route and TRYING to ban it all together.

    Our prohibition laws have failed us since the 60s and still are. Go deh Miller.

    • Anonymous says:

      3:03 nailed it. A sensible course of action is more effective. The populus will do as they please regardless. How long will the masses be led astray by the futile attempts of the Gov who spend our money fighting a loosing cause.

      Legaliize, Tax, Spend the money educating the children (the world standard of pay to play). To me it seems more laws more punishment and higher taxes in GCM.

      When will the people get a break from the constant drain of stricter laws a regulations which limit our personal freedoms found no where else in the world but here?

      Do something for your people CIG. Instead of updated draconian laws who imprison the poor which the public has to subsidize, we want financial freedom, we want our children to flourish, we want a stable future for ourselves.

      Why are you there if not to further your people?

      Thus far it is Port, when it should be education.

  22. V says:

    I thought I would never say this, but for once I agree with Ezzard.
    It sounds so weird to say.

    • Anonymous says:

      Miller is making more and more sense lately, I don’t know what’s going on 🙂

      • Anonymous says:

        Ezzard always made sense only some was too stupid to understand him. One thing for sure he was never a coward. He will go down trying. Some of our people who condemns gambling and are in legal standings of this Country goes to Las Vegas and the Bahamas to gamble. This is just called hiding and these positions should be taken from them.

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